Carolina Academy Teacher of the Year sees title as reassurance

March 4, 2019

LAKE CITY, S.C. – Fourth-grade teacher Megan McElveen was surprised last week when she learned she had won Teacher of The Year at The Carolina Academy in Lake City.

It is her first year winning the title. McElveen said she knows her students are getting what they need academically, but winning Teacher of The Year lets her know that the students actually respect and like her, too.

“It’s kind of like a reassurance to let you know that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do,” McElveen said. “You’re doing everything right.”

Students and teachers all participated in selecting a Teacher of the Year.

The Carolina Academy Headmaster Stevie Phillips said in sports, sometimes people refer to coaches as a “player’s coach” due to their relationship to the team members. He said McElveen is a “student’s teacher.”

“The students in there, they really love and admire her,” Phillips said. “It’s almost like a friendship, more than anything else. She relates to them so well.”

Phillips said McElveen is able to relate to her students on a personal level, and that is what makes them do well in her class.

“I’m lucky to have her,” Phillips said. “She could be a lot of other places, but she really chooses to be here.”

This is McElveen’s fifth year teaching at The Carolina Academy. She teaches fourth grade in the same classroom she attended fourth grade in.

McElveen used to teach Sunday School at her church, so she knew she liked teaching. But when she started college at Francis Marion University, she majored in accounting.

“And then I went and knew I just couldn’t be sitting behind a desk all day long,” McElveen said. “And so I decided to do teaching. And I had it set in mind that I wanted to do kindergarten. But then I did second grade, and I came over here and I’ve just fallen in love with the fourth-graders.”

She said she loves teaching fourth-graders because they are young enough that they still want to please, but they are also a little more independent and can do things on their own.

“I really like those ‘aha’ moments when they can finally see that they get it,” McElveen said. “And I like seeing from where they struggle to when they are a master at it and it’s easy. They don’t have any problems with it.”

McElveen also loves to see her students work out their social problems, too.

“I told them, I’ll come and I’ll guide them through it,” she said. “But there’s not always going to be a parent or a teacher right there to get somebody in trouble.”

Before McElveen learned she won Teacher of the Year last week, she and her students thought they were in trouble. Phillips had visited the classroom four times that morning. At one point, McElveen had to leave the classroom for a moment, and when she returned, her students and family were all in the room with flowers and a cake to surprise her.

“It was completely unexpected,” she said.

McElveen said she likes that she won the title, because her students get excited about it.

“When he (Phillips) makes the announcement that the fourth-grade teacher won, it’s like they (the students) won, too,” McElveen said.

She said Phillips is probably one of the best principals that she’s worked for, and she believes the members of the staff at The Carolina Academy are some of the best in South Carolina.